It is fantasy football playoff time. For many fans, it means devoting even more cognitive processes to America’s most beloved sporting empire.
This weeks picks include a bombardment of important stats to help you survive into Week 15, along with heaping portions of breathtaking propaganda.
WEEK 13: 6-9-1
WEEK 13: 1-2
Houston Texans (2-10) -3 at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-9)
All these years I have been trying to stash Ben Tate on my rosters, and now he goes off as a 102-yard, three touchdown performance. He is still likely wired off the miracle Auburn win. ATS PICK: Jaguars.
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) +5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
Last week I exposed the Colts organization as a fraud with head coach Chuck Pagano being the personal puppet of owner Jim Irsay. Andrew Luck has been one of the bigger disappointments in fantasy football this year, and his season has not been the same since throwing the off-target pass that wrecked Reggie Wayne’s knee. ATS PICK: Bengals
Atlanta Falcons (3-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-6-1)
After the Packers Thanksgiving Day debacle, state-run NFL media was reporting that Aaron Rodgers would be shut down for the season. It remains a possibility, although Rodgers is not on board with the idea. The Packers could still qualify for the postseason by running the table along with Detroit finishing 2-2. Even if that happened, what would be Green Bay’s odds of going far in the playoffs likely facing Carolina, Seattle, and New Orleans?
In Atlanta, Harry Douglas has been thought of as scrap-heap, waiver wire material. He has been a solid WR2 with Julio Jones out. This game is currently off the board, check back during the weekend when the spread will likely come out.
Cleveland Browns (4-8) at New England Patriots (9-3)
Josh Gordon is arguably the top fantasy surprise of the season. In my wildest dreams I would have never guessed a Browns receiver would average 125 receiving yards per game over 10 weeks. In the last three weeks alone Gordon has been targeted 47 times. As of mid-week this game was also off the board but the Patriots tend to play up or down to their level of competition.
Oakland Raiders (4-8) +2.5 at New York Jets (5-7)
Here is shocking news, Darren McFadden is hurt again, that should at least remove the temptation of starting him. If Geno Smith is really going to get the start over Matt Simms I would definitely stream the Raiders defense if you are in need. ATS PICK: Raiders
Detroit Lions (7-5) +2.5 at Philadelphia Eagles (7-5)
This is the most intriguing game of the weekend from a fantasy perspective. Nick Foles is one of the fantasy MVPs of the season. His numbers are historic with 19 touchdowns without an interception and a 125.2 quarterback rating. Running back LeSean McCoy has also been worth every penny of his first-round draft value.
But this is also a good weekend to own quarterback Matthew Stafford (who is on pace for 5,000 passing yards) and Calvin Johnson. ATS PICK: Eagles
Miami Dolphins (6-6) +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Everyone was warning to stay away from Le’Veon Bell for the Steelers game in Baltimore. He wound up having a career night, until suffering a concussion in one of the more frightening scenes of the season. To add insult to injury, Bell’s touchdown was taken away since his helmet was dislodged (and facemask broken) before he crossed the goal line.
In a alternate universe, this injury may not have even happened if coach Mike Tomlin hadn’t helped his team by inadvertently stepping onto the field, as the Steelers may had been out of the game in the closing minutes. Unintended consequences can be a drag. Bell is in practice this week and is expected to play, but I wouldn’t start him if you have other options. ATS PICK: Steelers
Buffalo Bills (4-8) +2.5 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9)
C.J. Spiller warned last week that he was getting close to his ‘old self’, and he actually delivered against the Falcons. Even before getting hurt, Doug Martin was one of the season’s biggest disappointments. Back in August I did not like him as a second or third overall pick, he will come much cheaper in 2014. ATS PICK: Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) +3 at Washington (3-9)
There is suddenly hope in the Robert Griffin III camp after he completed 24 of 32 passes, and more surprisingly rushed for 88 yards. My only fear is that RG3 would be shut down Stephen Strasburg-style if he gets dinged even the slightest bit in the next few weeks. ATS PICK: Chiefs
Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) +7 at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
There have been some ridiculous articles in recent weeks about Adrian Peterson being on the downside of his career. Considering how high he set the bar last year it’s likely true. But 1,365 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns? I say those fortunate enough to have drafted him No. 1 overall this year have gotten full value. ATS PICK: Vikings
Tennessee Titans (5-7) +12 at Denver Broncos (10-2)
There was also a ridiculous Dan Wetzel article a few weeks back claiming that cold weather is Peyton Manning’s kryptonite. That, and playing the Patriots. It will be cold and possibly snowing on the Front Range on Sunday. But outside of an avalanche hitting Mile High Stadium, it’s wise to start any Denver player you have, including Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas, who is expected to return after a two week absence. ATS PICK: Titans
St. Louis Rams (5-7) +6.5 at Arizona Cardinals (7-5)
In the last three weeks Michael (don’t call me Malcolm) Floyd has racked up 193, 104, and 99 yards receiving. I’ll say he has arrived and is a strong WR2 at this point. ATS PICK: Cardinals
New York Giants (5-7) +3 at San Diego Chargers (5-7)
Eli Manning vs. Philip Rivers, Chapter III. Eli now claims he isn’t sure why he revolted on becoming a member of the Bolts 10 years ago. He knows the reason, would he have won two Super Bowls with the Chargers?
Before Cyber Monday and even Black Friday, there was Ladarius Green Wednesday, as fantasy owners fought over the Chargers’ shiny new tight end toy like a 1982 Cabbage Patch Kid. Ladarius was in on virtually all of San Diego’s snaps last Sunday and I have a feeling he is going to win people some money over the next three weeks. ATS PICK: Giants
Seattle Seahawks (11-1) +2.5 at San Francisco 49ers (8-4)
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks left no doubt and obliterated the Saints on Monday Night Football. Now comes the hangover as the Niners are out to send their own emphatic message this week. Seattle actually has a pretty rough run this month, so expectations for Wilson should be kept in check. ATS PICK: 49ers (LOCK)
Carolina Panthers (9-3) +3.5 at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
Wisdom says the Saints will bounce back this week and put an end to the Panthers eight-game winning streak. Fantasy owners have no choice but to continue to roll with Drew Brees, but he may find the going tough for a second straight week. ATS PICK: Saints (LOCK)
Dallas Cowboys (7-5) +1 at Chicago Bears (6-6)
Alshon Jeffery had his second monster game of the season, accounting for 249 receiving yards and two scores in Minnesota. DeMarco Murray gets injured as much as anyone this side of Darren McFadden, but he is healthy, coming off a three touchdown game, and faces one of the NFL’s worse fun defenses. ATS PICK: Bears (LOCK)